Thursday, December 1, 2011

Genesis 49:13-21

As Jacob continues the “blessings” to his other sons, there are some harsh prophecies made, and they are fairly cryptic. Beth Moore says there is not a lot of certainty among scholars as to the exact meanings of these. But we will do our best!

Zebulun “will live by the seashore... his border will extend toward Sidon.” (vs.13)  Although this seems like a pleasant enough prophecy, Sidon is actually outside of the Promised Land. So I’m wondering if maybe this might have indicated a double-minded spirit - part in and part out. The tribe of Zebulon apparently settled on land between the Mediterranean and the Sea of Galilee, looking toward the sea both to the West and to the East.

Issachar, called a “rawboned donkey” (indicating strength and stubbornness), would “submit to forced labor” in exchange for peace. (vs.14-15)  In other words, this tribe would be exploited by others.

Dan “shall judge his people...” The tribe of Dan did include prominent judges (Samson was from this tribe). [He] will be a snake by the roadside, a viper along the path...”  (vs.16-17)  YIKES! How would you like to hear that one from your father? In fact, Jacob appeared deeply distressed by his own words, for he pauses to plead, “I look for your deliverance, LORD.” (vs.18)

Gad was told “a troop shall tramp upon him, but he shall triumph at last.” (vs.19)

Asher’s food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king.” (vs.20) At last, something positive! Moses affirmed a positive blessing on Asher’s tribe in Deuteronomy 33:24, so this tribe seems to have had it a little better than the rest!

Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns.” (vs.21) Another rendering of this verse is “he utters beautiful words.” The tribe of Naphtali occupied the land near the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus did so much of his teaching, so surely “beautiful words” were spoken there.

The only prophecies remaining were for Joseph and Benjamin, the sons of Jacob’s beloved Rachel. We will look at these next time. But what is it that we can take from these verses? How do these apply to our own lives? Well, in reading over these blessings for the past two weeks, I am convinced more than ever that our words have power. We daily have the power to bless or curse all with whom we come into contact: our spouses, our children and grandchildren, our coworkers, our neighbors, and anyone God brings into our paths within a day. How important it is that we use our words to encourage. So often they become self-fulfilling prophecies!

Having immersed myself in this chapter a couple of weeks ago, the idea of blessings has truly been on my mind. So, when I met with the parents of my students for conferences the week before Thanksgiving, I tried to make that a time for “blessing” my parents - not with flowery words about their child - although there were lots of those - but about their roles as parents and the modeling they are doing in their commitments to each other, to their child, to the education of their child, and to the community as a whole - in that order. They were the best conferences I’ve ever had! I truly am blessed to teach in such a great community, where I’m able to have the same family several times, so I can really get to know them - so it was easy to “bless” them!

But how much more important to “bless” the hard-to-bless - those whose potential is not quite so easy to find! I have so many struggling students in my class this year, and I need to ask God every morning, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD.” He makes me very aware of the need to speak “blessings” over these kids - even when they show up with no homework done! Only the Holy Spirit can accomplish that in me! Thank you, LORD, for Your faithfulness that overrides the lack of mine!!!

Have a blessed morning!

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